• Need-to-Know News: March 18, 2011

    March 18, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • Our director, Paul N. Samuels, is quoted in the March 21 edition of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly on the recommendations made by Governor Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team, whose approach to drug and alcohol treatment won our praise. In the article, Samuels reiterates our and ASAP's support for establishing managed care entities that focus specifically on addiction and mental health, on the condition that the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the Office of Mental Health (OMH) will be “writing the rules for how this is done.” See ASAP's alert on this issue here, and take action today to express your support!
    • It's not too late to join us in urging legislators to entirely restore the proposed 8% cut to ATI, reentry and probation -- and as much as possible of the legislative adds from prior years -- to enable the state to continue reducing crime and saving taxpayer dollars, and close unneeded prisons as proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Follow this link to see our action alert.

    Headlines on Our Issues

    State

    • After his first budget meeting with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed optimism for an on-time budget.
    • As negotiations continued in both houses on that front, lawmakers took up the issue of prison closings at the Public Protection joint budget committee hearing this week.
    • Meanwhile, the recommendations of the governor's Medicaid Redesign Team, which received support from the New York Times editorial board -- are only partially included in the Senate and Assembly budgets.
    National

    • Advocates are optimistic about a trend against sending youths to adult courts and plans in New York and California to close state youth prisons and move toward local supervision.
    • Both Oklahoma and Arkansas are joining the long list of states moving forward on criminal justice reforms in favor of alternatives to incarceration.
    • The Department of Housing and Urban Development released its implementation plan for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and announced a new online public forum to gather suggestions for advancing its contributions to stable housing and health outcomes.
    • Under legislation introduced this week, psychologists, clinical social workers and mental-health facilities would qualify for some of the $19 billion in federal payments for clinicians and medical centers that switch to qualifying electronic health-record systems.
    • Despite the incentives, however, some clinicians are expressing wariness about making the switch to electronic health records.
    • More than half of Americans still don't understand how the healthcare reform law will impact them personally, according to a new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.
    • Addressing the International Community Corrections Association, James Burch, the acting director of the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance, spoke of a "historic opportunity" to make progress on helping released prisoners reenter society.

    From Our Partners

    • The Chicago Sun-Times published an excellent letter by B. Diane Williams of the Safer Foundation on the importance of job opportunities for people with criminal records.
    • After an article on the criminal records of some nursing home workers, the Fortune Society's Glenn E. Martin made fellow advocates proud with a letter in the New York Times calling for governments to "balance public safety with the ability of formerly incarcerated job seekers to find and maintain employment."
    • In its sixth report card on the Washington, D.C., response to its alarmingly high rates of HIV infection, the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice finds the city falling behind.